By Gabrielle. Incredible chalkwork by Rajiv Surendra.

After finding this interview, I want to read Debora Spar’s book, “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection.” Among other gems, she’s popularizing the term satisficing, which essentially means settling for something that is second best. You might not be the CEO, but you are recognized as a key contributor at work. Maybe you missed every PTA meeting last year, but managed to sit with your family nearly every night at dinner.

We talk about this topic so much here on Design Mom. Some days, it’s crucial for us to somehow achieve perfection in the work-life balance. Other days, we’re just happy if we’ve managed a shower before the day ends! Turns out, it’s all about manageable expectations. While none of us is seeking out mediocrity, we really do need to cut ourselves some slack when we’re not standing at the top of the mountain. Maybe we just need to climb a different mountain!

And here’s what she has to say about high school students:

“They’re coming out of high school exhausted. The pressure in high school is killing these kids. By the time they get to college, they have been fighting for three or four years to get the perfect SAT scores and get into AP classes. It’s a much wider set of pressures than when you or I experienced growing up. It’s not just grades, it’s extracurriculars. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve seen who have started their own NGO’s before they’re 18. Most people don’t know how to change the world by the time they’re 18. You see it particularly in the city, where most of the schools require community service. There’s something deeply oxymoronic about required volunteering. They have to have community service, they have to have sports, they have to have been president of a club. It’s just too much.”

What do you think? Does the idea of “satisficing’ appeal to you? And for those of you with high school students, have you felt the pressure? How do you and your kids, not to mention their school, deal with it?

P.S. – The one thing that troubles me in the interview is the discussion of Ms. Spar’s breast reduction at the age of 21. Apparently, her breasts were too much of a professional distraction. Thoughts? I’m sure you have some good ones!